First Edition Cycling News for April 27, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones & John Stevenson
Mario Cipollini's Liquigas-Bianchi team has announced that their star sprinter has decided to retire, effective immediately. The 38 year-old, nicknamed the Lion King, is stopping after 17 seasons and 189 victories.
"Announcing my retirement one week before the Giro d'Italia is a painful but honest decision," said Cipollini. "The public will understand. I would have liked to be at the start of the Giro d'Italia in Reggio Calabria looking for the victory again, fighting for the pink jersey... Maybe, an 'old man' like me, who has given a lot to cycling and has received a lot, now has to recognise the right moment to stop. I thank the Liquigas-Bianchi team which has trusted me and deserves all my gratitude. I am honoured to have ended my career as a rider wearing the jersey of such a great team."
Liquigas Sport S.p.A. President Paolo Dal Lago commented, "Mario has always been loyal and responsible with us, both when he started his last season well trained and also today in such a difficult moment. Cipollini has given his final victories to our team as a present (a stage in the Tour du Qatar and the Giro della Provincia di Lucca). He has been a great athlete and I am sure he will still be able to give much to cycling."
Cipollini will hold a press conference next Friday in Milan to further explain his decision.
Farewells to Cipo
The Italian cycling world has reacted with surprise and sorrow to Mario Cipollini's announcement that he is retiring effective immediately. The most common reaction among his peers and other Italian cycling luminaries polled by la Gazzetta dello Sport seems to be, "we thought he was training hard for the Giro."
Alessandro Petacchi has inherited Cipollini's throne as Italy's sprint king in the last couple of years. "I am sorry [to see him go] because Mario is part of the history of bicycle racing and also of me personally," said Petacchi. "I became well known thanks to him. My victories mattered because I had beaten him. I am thinking of the stages of the Giro two years ago when he had the world champion jersey."
Renato Di Rocco, president of the Italian cycling federation, said, "I have a great deal of respect for what was surely a difficult decision for Mario. But the decision was typical Cipollini, a clean break, with the sense not to drag things out.
"Surely his departure makes the world of bike racing poorer," added Di Rocco. "We were waiting to see him in the Giro, not just for his sprints, but also for the man himself. Despite his age, he was still the true adversary of Petacchi in the sprints."
Former rider Maurizio Fondriest echoed the thoughts of many. "I thought that he was training hard for the Giro - I did not expect this," he said. "I am astonished and speechless at this decision; I do now know what might have influenced his choice. Before the world championships at Zolder he announced he was going to retire, but then thought again and came back to win. Really I don't know what to say, given that it's just ten days to the Giro."
Francesco Moser was sympathetic to the 38-year-old's plight. "In my last years as a professional I also felt the years passing," said Moser. "After a certain age you feel like a fish out of water because everyone in the peloton is younger and has a different attitude." But the news had come as a surprise to Moser too. "Not even Gimondi knew anything, and just a few days ago he had told Felice, who supplies him with bikes, that he was training for the Giro."
Lampre team manager Giuseppe Saronni also said he was surprised. "We were all waiting see him go up against Petacchi in the Giro," he said.
Former rider Gianni Bugno was less surprised than most. "I had been waiting for this," said Bugno. "I didn't know the date, but he was at an age. I thought he would ride the Giro first but I understand that this was just the moment to go. He has a lot of heart, a great rider who won many races."
Vincenzo Santoni, Cipollini's team manager at Domina Vacanze in 2003, said, "It's a great loss. I don't think we will ever find another like him. I am sad at this moment; I went through times of delight and pain with him. But I just remember the delights. The best? When he won Milan-San Remo. Certainly there was success in the Giro and the Vuelta, but the adrenaline after Milan San Remo is unforgettable.
"He is a great character, unique. In soccer it is easy to have a certain profile, but it's harder in a smaller sport. He was larger than life, like Tomba in skiing.
Beloki's bar mishap
The Tour de Romandie is supposed to be a combined comeback and Giro warm-up for Liberty Seguros rider Joseba Beloki - so what's the 2002 Tour de France runner up doing in last place in the prologue? Nobody would accuse the slightly built Spanish climber of being a prologue specialist, but he's been a perfectly capable time trialist in the past, for example finishing ninth behind Lance Armstrong in the prologue of that same 2002 Tour.
In Geneva yesterday, however, Beloki was the victim of a mechanical. A problem with his handlebars meant he needed a bike change, something that even with a following car and well-drilled mechanics is going to put a hole in your time that's impossible to make up in a 3.4km prologue.
Nevertheless, team manager Manolo Saiz pronounced himself happy with Beloki's ride and continues to predict that the last three stages - two mountain days and a time trial - will be decisive.
AG2R-Prévoyance for upcoming races
The AG2R-Prévoyance team has announced its riders for several upcoming races.
At the Vuelta Castilla y Leon (April 27, May 1), the team will field Mikel Astarloza, Iñigo Chaurreau, Stéphane Goubert, Lloyd Mondory, Nicolas Portal, Christophe Riblon, Mark Scanlon, and Alexandre Usau
For the Circuit de Lorraine (April 27-30) the team will be represented by Samuel Dumoulin, Andy Flickinger, Yuriy Krivtsov, Laurent Mangel, Jean-Patrick Nazon, And Tomas Vaitkus.
At the Trophee des Grimpeurs (May 1) the line-up will be Sylvain Calzati, Cyril Dessel, Philip Deignan, Samuel Dumoulin, Simon Gerrans, Laurent Mangel, and Ludovic Turpin.
Finally, for the Four Days of Dunkirk (May 4-8), the team will field Sylvain Calzati, Cyril Dessel, Andy Flickinger, Stéphane Goubert, Yuriy Krivtsov, Jean -Patrick Nazon, Ludovic Turpin, and Tomas Vaitkus.
New criterium in Raleigh
The Capital Cycling Club and Raleigh All-Stars has announced the inaugural News & Observer Twilight Criterium in Raleigh, NC on Friday, May 27. The race will be held around Raleigh's historic Moore Square, with the flat and fast one mile course encircling numerous popular night-spots. A $10,000 Men's Pro 1,2 and a $5,000 Women's 1,2,3 prize purse will ensure a lively evening of racing. This festival of cycling will include live music, and the proceeds will benefit the Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.
The News & Observer Twilight Criterium fills a gap in the weekend of NRC racing along the East Coast, sandwiched between Thursday's Richmond, VA Cap Tech Classic and Saturday's Kelly Cup in Baltimore, MD.
For more information see capcycling.org.
Fifth Women's Cycling Summit
The Yoplait Nouriche Women's Cycling Summit will return to the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival on Wednesday, June 8. Participants will include riders and managers competing in the Nature Valley Grand Prix, cycling luminaries from across the country and area cyclists. The mission of these Summits is to build women's cycling at both the grassroots and elite level in North America.
Past Yoplait Nouriche Summits have covered a broad range of topics. The Summit held in June of 2004 presented panel discussions on giving more value to your sponsors and on working with the media. The following October, the Summit at Interbike covered bike industry sponsorships and strategies for making bike shops more welcoming to women.
The upcoming Summit will include a 'town hall meeting' on the Women's Prestige Cycling Series. This women-only series, which had its start in the 2003 Summits, is highlighting women's racing by giving them a spotlight that the women don't have to share with the men. Series events include the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Tour de 'Toona/International, and the Bermuda Grand Prix.
Grassroots topics will include strategies for recruiting women to recreational and racing clubs. Other topics will be announced when the agenda is released in May. The Summit is a collaborative project and the organizers welcome your input on the agenda.
For more information see www.WomenCyclists.com.
Forest City Velodrome grand opening
North America's newest indoor track, the Forest City Velodrome at London Gardens, Ontario, Canada, will have its grand opening this Saturday, April 30 at 7pm. The venue's inaugural race took place last Friday.
"We are planning for a full house of over 1,000 spectators for our Grand Opening", said Albert Coulier, the 87 year old who put the track into the London Gardens an old ice hockey arena, with his two sons Bob & Ron Schelstrate.
"The racing last week was our trial run. Now we have the race day jitters out of system, the event this week will be a more compact show lasting 2 hours". said Coulier. "If our first show was exciting, our second will be full of the same action packed racing.
Events scheduled include a lap record competition (the time to beat is 9.02 seconds), 10 and 25 lap scratch races, Unknown distance, and Madison.
Many of the Ontario Masters are attending an Open training camp on the weekend which will keep them at the track for the evening's races.
For more details see www.ForestCityVelodrome.ca
Chas Messenger Stage Race preview
With last years winner John Tanner deciding to spend the weekend with his family, he leaves the second and third Mark Lovatt (Planet X) and Warrick Spence (London Dynamo) in the hunt to take honours along with 2003 victor Rob Enslin (Viner Bikes/Agisko) in this year's edition of the Chas Messenger Stage Race, April 30 - May 2.
The previous podium placers will have to contend with strong opposition from Recycling.co.uk/MG's Snodden, Greenwood, Oliphant, and Cowell along with riders from from Team DFL. Stuart Dangerfield (Science in Sport), Zak Carr (Team Clean) and strong teams from JE James Cycles (Coulson/Hewitt/Higgins and Wordsworth); and local teams from Team Milton Keynes, AW Cycles and Team Synergy and Angliasport RT are also included.
The first stage is at Hillingdon cycle circuit over 64km on Saturday April 30. The following day sees the race move to Stewkley, Bucks as the HQ for a 10km individual time trial based on the Cublington Circuit in the morning starting at 10:00; with a 90km road race stage on the circuit in the afternoon. Monday 2nd May is the fourth and final stage at Chilton over 110km.
Organiser Ian Chatfield says that now in its third year the race continues to grow in strength, and hopes it lives up to the expectations of the field. With the pending reorganisation of the British Cycling Competition Structure, it will be necessary to reorganize the format next year to encourage the growth of the race.
Chas Messenger was the man who established the Milk Race Tour of Britain has spent over 50 years as organiser, administrator, and team manager. As National Team Manager he was the man behind the same day World Championship road race victories of Beryl Burton and Graham Webb in 1967 in Holland.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2005)